Herbs and Qigong for Cheer, Mood, and Sleep!
By Katrina Everhart
Herbs, beautiful in some cases, sticky, prickly, and even ugly by some standards, look pretty while adding flavor to meals. When added to soups, condiments, salsa, chili, rice, grains such as wheat, barley, or quinoa, herbs provide vitamins, minerals, and amino acids necessary for the human body, in addition to flavors that taste good.
Yet for centuries, herbs have also been used to heal the human body, physical conditions from high blood pressure and anemia to controlling cholesterol functions which affect brain functions.
Our organs, including our skin, work together. When one is not working as well as it should, or it is overworking, other organs begin to work harder. Cues often used to indicate health issues are moods.
For example, in cases of unexplained anger, herbalists look for problems with the liver and how it metabolizes food. Issues with melancholy often referred to as situational depression now, could be problems with the gallbladder. Both wreak havoc on the heart, brain, and blood, which can increase the blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, white blood cell count, and change our moods.
It is important to remember that our bodies are different every 72 hours. Waiting is good sometimes; waiting is not good for other things. Pills can work quickly for certain conditions, yet often they damage other areas.
One example would be antibiotics. We use antibiotics to kill bacteria that cause infections. Yet, antibiotics kill all bacteria. This leads to problems with processing foods leading to problems with the intestines absorbing vitamins and minerals correctly, and elimination issues from constipation to diarrhea. The latter can also cause bloating and edema within certain areas of the body.
Eating dairy products may help, but only after you have finished all the antibiotics. Eating dairy while taking antibiotics renders them less effective. While delaying healing overall, antibiotics interrupt the effectiveness of prescription drugs from heart medications to birth control.
Antibiotics can render some types of birth control pills ineffective. Many women have become pregnant while using antibiotics even when they are on birth control pills. Herbs will not work as fast on the body as pills, yet, herbs help organs and the interlocking systems to work together. Rather than destroying cells pervasively and causing certain organs to work harder or stop working altogether, herbs work to destroy certain cells and encourage organs to function to help each other, like the team they were meant to be.
Cultivated or wild, herbs help us process foods as well as environmental issues from stress to air pollution. Sometimes referred to as Energy, both humans and plants have internal and external energy. As internal energy increases in one area such as the lungs, external energy can increase in other areas spurring growth of certain plants.
Choctaw/Apache Claude Medford, JR. said:
“The elders believe that when we see increases in some of the wild medicine plants, this is the creator’s way of showing us that we will have an increasing need for these plants” (as quoted by Kavasch & Baar, 1999, p. 178).
Neutraceuticals, simply called healing foods that have nutritional value, are available to anyone and everyone from regular grocery stores to window gardens to specialty stores.
Herbs that improve or alter moods include sage, yarrow, morning glory, catnip, yellow Lady’s slipper, pink Moccasin flower, and St. John’s wort. Teas and tinctures are made out of these to help the body deal with anxiety and promote sleep.
As the body deals with anxiety, a person feels more calm and the mood changes. In controlled clinical trials, taking herbalists’ preparations of St. John’s wort have, over time, been more effective than placebos as well as pharmaceutical antidepressant pills (Kavasch & Baar, 1999, p. 126).
Exercise is a necessary part of any diet. It helps move blood, oxygen, hormones, as well as helps the absorption of food for energy, minerals, and amino acids.
Qigong, sometimes referred to as moving meditation, helps improve anxiety, depression, and psychological well-being. The Qigong Eight Brocade or Precious Eight series also helps increase flexibility and muscle tone as well.
A meta-analysis of five clinical studies demonstrates preliminary evidence that performing a Qigong series over time with healthy subjects as well as subjects with chronic illnesses and subjects with depression, the Qigong exercises were effective in reducing depression and anxiety, and improving overall psychological well-being as measured by the Symptom Checklist 90 and the Diabetes Specific Quality of Life Scale.
One part of the beginning practice of these Qigong exercises is to smile from the heart, mind, body, and mouth. Simple smiling increases the endorphins in the blood stream within 30 seconds. The effects of just 30 seconds of smiling can last for more than two hours. While endorphins are raised, cortisol, a stress hormone, decreases. As cortisol decreases, stress decreases. As stress decreases, mood improves thus breaking a cycle of decline. As the body improves during the day, sleep improves at night.
Food combined with exercise and smiling maintains more than just weight. It helps monitor and maintain mood and organ health while decreasing stress, anxiety, and limits some forms of depression.
Bodies experiencing frequent exercise and proper eating are more able to handle stress internally and externally within the environment. They are less likely to catch colds, flu, and other illnesses such as pneumonia, partly because all the organs are working together, and exercise is helping move blood, hormones, oxygen, and toxins through the body and out of body.
Certainly individuals with clinical or ongoing mood issues need allopathic or traditional western medicines and treatments. Yet folks with situational stressful issues that are not described as clinical can use these herbal teas and tinctures as well as Qigong to help improve mood, decreasing anxiety and depression. Everyone deals with issues that depress them. Eating the wrong types of foods as well as not being active enough can decrease good moods. Eating the right types of foods and exercising regularly increase our good mood and overall health. Qigong, smiling, and neutraceuticals help!
Buhner, S. H. (2004). The Secret Teachings of Plants. The Intelligence of the Heart In the Direct Perception of Nature. Rochester, VT: Bear & Company.
Cichoke, A. J. (2001). Secrets of Native American Herbal Remedies. A Comprehensive Guide to the Native American Tradition of Using Herbs and the Mind/Body/Spirit Connection for Improving Health and Well-Being. New York: Avery, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc.
Kavasch, E. B. & Baar, K. (1999). American Indian Healing Arts. Herbs, Rituals, and Remedies for Every Season of Life. New York: Bantam Books.
Wang, F., Man, J. K.M, Lee, E. O. Wu, T., Benson, H., Frichhione, G. L., Wang, W. & Yeung, A. (2013). The Effects of Qigong on Anxiety, Depression, and Psychological Well-Being: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative medicine. Retrieved April 11, 2013 from http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/152738
Katrina grew up in LA, earned her Bachelor’s at Stephens; Masters at University of Missouri, and is ABD at Walden University. Specializing in conflict resolution/mediation, qualitative/quantitative research, systems theory, organizational behavior, project management, competitors, integrative medicine/research, in stress, productivity, innovation, and decision making. She’s worked in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the U.S., training & conducting product research, product/service development and marketing. Past projects include Sprint’s DSL, Talking Call Waiting, P&G Floor Care, American Express’s Leadership Development. An author, Certified Project Manager, Mediator, Researcher, Indexer, Parliamentarian, and WoodCarver, she manages her 180 year-old cattle farm and volunteers in Civil Air Patrol, USAF Auxiliary.